Home

 

Impression of black hole binary IC10 X-1

Welcome to my website

This site is very much under construction, and will focus on my astronomy research interests. Copies of most of my papers are available from the "Refereed Journals" section of my Publications page. Right clicking the title lets you download the paper, while left clicking opens it in the browser window (if you're lucky). Please see my Research Interests page for more details on my current projects. You can now also learn a little bit about me, and my contact details

Research interests

Broadly speaking, I am interested in X-ray binary systems, which consist of a compact star (black hole or neutron star) and a "donor star"  that are so close that the compact star tears material off of the donor star, releasing a huge amount of energy, in some cases brighter than a million Suns. Much of the energy is release as X-rays, hence the term X-ray binary.

Most of my research involves analyzing and interpreting data from X-ray  observatory satellites in orbit above the Earth's atmosphere (so I can't break my experiments). My main work horses are Chandra (operated by NASA), as well as XMM-Newton (run by the European Space Agency). My recent work has also involved the Hubble Space Telescope.



While my doctoral thesis work concerned X-ray binaries in our own Galaxy, my more recent research has involved the X-ray populations of other, nearby galaxies. This is an XMM-Newton observation of the nearby galaxy NGC 253.
Most of the ~100 X-ray sources within the white ellipse are X-ray binaries in NGC 253. However, several could be supermassive black holes in the hearts of distant galaxies; most of the X-ray sources outside the ellipse are expected to be these so-called Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN). The X-ray sources aren't really different sizes:- actually, they are all impossibly small; however, the X-ray telescopes make them look much bigger than they really are, particularly if they are very bright and/or far away from the centre of the image. I am very interested in finding ways to tell the X-ray binaries from the AGN, and think I have found a great way, based on something called structure function analysis.